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The Mother did not deserve this

Last Updated : 25 February 2015, 18:10 IST
Last Updated : 25 February 2015, 18:10 IST

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Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has waded into the already troubled waters of secularism, adding his bit to set the cat among the pigeons.

At a public meeting in a village near Bharatpur in Rajasthan on Monday, Bhagwat said Mother Teresa’s main motivation behind service to the poor was to convert them to Christianity. Bhagwat’s statement is a surprise since Teresa is no longer alive and the Missionaries of Charity she founded keeps a low profile, working to bring succour to the most marginalised in society.

But, when one considers that Bhagwat’s remark is the latest among a long list of pronouncements and actions by various factions of the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, designed to irritate the minorities, the RSS chief’s barb at Teresa comes as no surprise. It is part of a larger design to keep the communal pot boiling. 

The remark is not aimed at Mother Teresa alone but brings up the contentious issue of conversions, in line with the programme of “ghar vapsi” or reconversions that are now being attempted in various parts of the country by the Sangh Parivar groups.

Bhagwat’s remark, doubting Teresa’s motives, amounts to questioning her sincerity. If at all, this does a great disservice to the memory of a person, nay, a veritable saint who was a mother to the discarded, poverty-hit, disease-afflicted sections which had nowhere else to go and gratefully accepted whatever love, affection and support that the Kolkata-based nuns provided them. For a human, barely living on the margins, does faith matter?

It was not as if Teresa’s associates went round the city, forcing the indigent to go with them with conversion in mind. The poor and the lonely heard about the missionaries, sought them out and were given whatever support was possible.

Teresa, with her band of dedicated associates, gave back to the poor their sense of dignity and self-respect. Seriously, who cares which religion they belonged to and what they turned to after being adopted by the missionaries. What matters is that thousands of people who had believed they were destined to live in hell were literally picked up from the streets and saved further misery.   

Teresa herself was no stranger to controversies and during her lifetime, the Nobel laureate was the target of much criticism by a section of the intelligentsia even as she was adored and worshipped by multitudes who saw in her divinity personified. When an associate of Mother Teresa was asked how she would have reacted to Bhagwat’s remark, her answer was typical, “Mother would have said let’s pray for them.” 

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Published 25 February 2015, 18:10 IST

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